The WPA and Federal Relief Policy

By Donald S. Howard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
"THE PROBLEM OF RELIEF"

STRICTLY SPEAKING, one cannot speak of the relief problem as a single unit any more than of the health problem, the family problem, or the national defense problem. Each is a nexus of different, though complex and related problems.


COMPLEXITY OF RELIEF PROBLEMS

The complexity of relief problems arises in part from differences in the kinds of persons who need relief, variations in the nature of causes giving rise to their individual needs, and fluctuations in public attitudes. Difficulties arise, too, from disparities in the probable duration of people's needs, from the heterogeneity of measures designed to meet needs of various kinds, and finally, from the wide variety of administrative arrangements effected to carry out these programs.

America's answer to different classes of individuals having among common needs their own peculiar difficulties has been to set up an elaborate series of special governmental programs: one program primarily for certain dependent children, one for needy aged, and another for needy blind persons, who can meet prescribed requirements with respect to eligibility. Still another program, that of public employment provided by the Work Projects Administration (WPA), is designed to provide employment to limited numbers of needy employable workers meeting defined eligibility requirements. In addition, a special program has been organized to provide subsistence grants to farmers in need of such aid.

Subsequent to the outbreak of World War II, special provision has been made, usually from federal funds exclusively, for meeting the needs of aliens and even American citizens affected by action of the federal government. Included in this group are the families of aliens held in custody by the government. Included also are aliens and citizens ordered by the government to evacuate specified strategic areas.

Though not yet completed at this writing, plans are being

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